"Electronic Tattoo" for Fetal Monitoring Gets Grant

Last week, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced its latest selection of grant winner for its Grand Challenges Explorations Initiative. One of these recipients was a team from the University of California, San Diego and University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. The team is developing a tiny, flexible fetal monitor.

Described as an electronic "tattoo," it's a wearable patch constructed of circuits, sensors and wireless transmitters that adhere to skin like a temporary tattoo and has the added benefit of being able to stretch and flex with the skin's movement. Researchers hope that the final product will continuously measure and monitor vital statistics like uterine contractions, fetal heart rate and oxygen, and maternal heart rate and body temperature.

Todd Coleman, professor of bioengineering and head of the project, points out the device's unique features in its ability to continuously check different measurements in a manner that's non-invasive and unobtrusive. The device will flourish in developing counties that lack sufficient healthcare access, but have high mobile phone usage as it can transmit data wirelessly to cell phones and pulled from a cloud by physicians in any location.

Check out the other grant winners here, an extensive write up from UCSD here or a Medgadget write up from last year about the prospect of the device.